Anti-abortion protesters were about 60 strong outside Mercy Regional Medical Center on Thursday to protest the hospitals affiliation with local obstetrician-gynecologist Richard Grossman.
Protesters waved signs that said such things as Dr. Grossman is an abortionist and Abortion Kills Children, and others purporting to depict aborted fetuses at drivers entering the hospitals parking lot. Some drivers honked at the protesters; others revved their engines.
A Catholic Hospital having an abortionist on staff is a scandal, said Daniel Anguis, local director of LifeGuard, the Christian nonprofit based in Maryland that organized the protest. On Wednesday, he dismembers babies, and the rest of the week he delivers them. And were here today to let the hospital know it wont be tolerated anymore.
The group said learning about Grossmans employment by Mercy was the reason for the protest. However, Grossman is an independent practitioner with an affiliation with Four Corners OB-GYN. He performs abortions at the Durango Planned Parenthood office, and he is listed as a member of Mercys practicing staff.
Grossman, 67, was approved by the hospitals board of directors to practice medicine at the hospital in 1976. Today, he is the hospitals longest-serving physician.
He was at work in the hospital during the protest.
In a statement, Mercy spokesman Nathan Schmidt said abortions are not performed at the hospital and that it neither employs nor compensates Grossman.
Dr. Richard Grossman is a member of the medical staff at Mercy Regional Medical Center. Being a member of the hospitals staff does not constitute employment, Schmidt said.
Mercys physician-credentialing and privileging practices are consistent with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Schmidt said.
Mercy is part of Catholic Health Initiatives, the nations third-largest Roman Catholic health-care system, headquartered in Denver. It was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1882.
The audience at the demonstration included two Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain representatives and a Herald reporter.
Grossman writes a monthly column for the Herald called Population Matters.
Anguis said all protesters were from the Four Corners, but many arrived on the same bus. For the last few years, LifeGuard routinely has protested each Wednesday in front of Planned Parenthoods Durango clinic. The group chose Wednesday because it is the day it says abortions are performed.
Grossman said, Sometimes I deliver babies on Wednesday.
Security guards and two Durango Police Department officers stood outside the hospital entrance about 100 yards away throughout the demonstration.
Many speakers urged support of Amendment 62, which will appear on the November ballot. If approved, the measure would define person in the Colorado Constitution as every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.
A similarballot measure in Colorado was voted down by a 3 to 1 margin in 2008.
Attorney Gualberto Garcia James said he was shocked when he learned Grossman works at Mercy.
I actually cried. It really hit home that someone like Dr. Grossman would use our faith to kill children, he said.
Garcia James said hed like to see somebody sue Mercy.
Former monk and national director of the Pro-Life Action League Joseph Scheidler looked at his notes to remember Grossmans name, before saying: Theres a murderer in that hospital, and we got to get him out. The best way to do that is to embarrass the hospital and protest.
Scheidler called the U.S. Supreme Courts Roe v. Wade decision a death order, and said he was reminded of a trip he took to Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Roe v. Wade is the courts 1973 landmark decision that gives women the right to have abortions.
I get the same feeling here, he said. Its evil.
Protester Shelley Gundry said she was extremely upset when she learned Grossman was among the team of doctors that delivered her son.
Reached at home following the protest, Grossman said he was very happy he lives in a country where we can speak our minds.
He said that, as a Quaker, he objects to depictions of abortions as sinful. He said licensed medical professionals provide greater care than garage mechanics or people who care only about money.
The reason I perform abortions is because Im a Christian, he said.
He denied that he performs late-term abortions, a term which he said has no medical definition.
When asked when life begins, he said, Personally, I believe in the strength, intellect and fortitude of women. When a woman says a fetus is a person, I think it is one. I believe the woman empowers the fetus.
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains sent a representative to the protest, Monica McCafferty. The crowd clapped when she was introduced.
The Rocky Mountain office oversees 24 clinics in Colorado, not all of which offer abortion procedures.
McCafferty said the organization offers birth control and comprehensive sex and health education, along with abortions, which she called a safe and legal medical procedure.
She was accompanied by Planned Parenthood security agent, Danny Cram. The organization started employing security guards because protesters at the clinic were being overly aggressive or trespassing. No arrests were reported at the demonstration near Mercy on Thursday.
It was very peaceful today, Cram said. They usually are.